Following a BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme which questioned certain ethics followed by the Society when dealing with alleged acts of cruelty.The programme, aired on Tuesday September 23rd, questioned many aspects of the RSPCA’s codes of practice, and included an interview with an MP, barristers, as well as the RSPCA’s Prosecution Case Manager Phil Wilson, and Chief Officer Phil Wass.
The question put to the panel was based on fears that many feel that the RSPCA is too zealous in its prosecutions there are critics who believe that pet owners are becoming victims of allegedly overzealous investigations and prosecutions.
According to barrister Nick Tucker, if a recent case had succeeded, every child who did not take their sick pet to the vet could have been prosecuted. He says this was the implication in the case of a 15 year old girl who found herself n court after following her father’s advice not to take her injured pet cat to the vet.
The girl found her cat had a damaged tail; her father suggested waiting a couple of days to see if the wound healed. The RSPCA prosecuted the father – who admitted an offence of neglect – only to see his daughter later accused of the same offence, with the RSPCA saying she had a duty of care to the cat.
The case was rejected but the RSPCA took it to the Court of Appeal, which rejected the case.
Phil Wilson made no apologies when asked about this case by the programmes presenter Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead, also appeared on the show to speak of his fury at the recent prosecution of a 71 year old woman in his constituency who ran an animal shelter.
Mr Field, who backed the woman on court, told File on 4 that the animals she looked after “lived the life of Riley” in her care. The pensioner had done a lot of good for animals over the years and he had witnessed this at first hand. “The whole thing makes my blood boil, it is so unjust,” he added. He also said that her case was not uncommon. “We need organisations like the RSPCA to properly protect and promote animal welfare and this isn’t the way to do it.”Mr Field said RSPCA members needed to put pressure on its council for a change in policy, otherwise it ought to face an external inquiry.
The MP’s concerns were echoed by barrister Jonathan Rich who said he was very troubled by the sort of defendants who were becoming typical of RSPCA prosecutions.
One comment from Public Opinion on the site states;
"Unfourtunately the RSPCA seem to have lost track of what they were originally formed to do, their prosecutions department seem more interested in generating publicity at any cost, some of the cases where they have prosecuted recently are more than dubious. They seem to totally ignore animal lovers where a fast £ can be made through donations generated by media exposure.The RSPCA are calling for pets to not be sold in petshops ! Schools not to keep animals ! Go around killing holy cows ! prosecuting pensioners, the disabled, elderly and School Children (the more high profile the case the more revenue from media coverage)To cap this they are one of the richest charities in the UK, yet still ask for our money when they have over £100 million in assets, they then spend it prosecuting some unfourtunate 15 year old cat lover !They totally flout and ignore the law of the land where it suits them, basically impersonate Police Officers and will trespass at will whenever it suits them. They should be stopped from mounting prosecutions due to the conflict of interest, or at least ought to be controlled by the CPS or some other safegaurd to ensure fair process."
Another contribution from Alison states;
"The RSPCA go for these cases because they are easy targets. It's much easier to prosecute a 15 year old girl for doing what her dad told her to do, or a 71 year old woman who has cared for dogs all her life, than go after real criminals such as puppy farmers. These are cases that are not really cases in the first place and are getting thrown out of courts so often the RSPCA is becoming a laughing stock - but really it is no laughing matter. There ought to be a public enquiry into all the money the RSPCA waste on spurious cases. It is, after all, money donated for them to stop cruelty to animals, not to persue non-cruelty cases through courts and appeal courts."
View the full thread at http://www.petforums.co.uk/pet-news/16178-mp-calls-reforms-rspca-policies.html